'Red flag': Transparency International downgrades America on corruption index as Trump undermines institutions
According to Transparency International, a global anti-corruption watchdog, the United States has dropped four points on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) from 75 to 71, taking it out of the top 20 most ethical world governments for the first time since the ranking was created:
"A four point drop in the CPI score is a red flag and comes at a time when the US is experiencing threats to its system of checks and balances, as well as an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power," said Zoe Reiter, Acting Representative to the US at Transparency International. "If this trend continues, it would indicate a serious corruption problem in a country that has taken a lead on the issue globally. This is a bipartisan issue that requires a bipartisan solution."
The 2018 CPI measures public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, drawing on 13 expert assessments and surveys of business executives to give each country a score from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). Five of the nine sources used to compile the score for the US showed a noteworthy drop in score. The other sources showed no improvement.
Since taking office, President Donald Trump has eroded the independence and integrity of America's public institutions at nearly every conceivable turn.
He has been accused of enriching his businesses with his office, potentially opening himself up to illegal foreign emoluments. He has fired career law enforcement officials, allegedly to stop investigations of himself. He assembled a team of wealthy finance executives and right-wing activists to oversee their own industries, many of whom were caught lavishing taxpayer money on themselves or using their offices to promote private or political interests. He has repeatedly been smacked down by federal courts for illegally circumventing regulatory procedure to get his way. He has even gone so far as to shut down the federal government, jeopardizing hundreds of thousands of federal workers and millions of people reliant on federal programs, to try to bully Congress into granting him money for a border wall.
The American people need a government that promotes accountability, transparency, and ethical conduct. Sadly, under Trump's guidance, we appear to be backsliding on all of these fronts.